End the addiction | Front Porch | Indy Week
Pin It

End the addiction 

Death penalty opponents claim almost two-thirds of North Carolinians support a moratorium on executions. To date, 22,000 Tar Heel citizens have signed a petition calling for a halt until flaws in the system can be studied. But in the North Carolina General Assembly, the number of moratorium supporters is far lower.

To combat that disparity, moratorium backers converged on Jones Street April 17 to lobby their representatives to vote for moratorium bills that have been introduced in the state House and Senate. More than 200 people attended, many coming by charter bus from western North Carolina.

Organizers want the public to take a long-haul approach to passage of a death penalty moratorium. During a rally at the North Carolina Museum of History, speakers urged the crowd to keep up the pressure on lawmakers.

"I want to implore you to please not make this your last trip to the General Assembly to demand a halt to executions," said Chris Fitzsimon of the Common Sense Foundation. "[Your representatives] don't think you'll be back. They think you had a lobby day and you'll disappear. We can't disappear. We must be here in some way every day."

A study released last week by the foundation and the N.C. Council of Churches adds fodder to the debate. The survey of capital cases in North Carolina found that murderers whose victims are white are 3.5 times more likely to be sentenced to death than defendants whose victims are non-white.

The study has been criticized by a UNC-Chapel Hill mathematician who claims it contains fundamental statistical errors--a challenge denied by the report's authors. But some numbers don't need statistical analysis. Since the state began administering the death penalty in 1909, more than 75 percent of those executed have been people of color, and more than 60 percent of the inmates currently on death row are non-white.

"Far too many innocent people have died in the name of justice in this state and it's all because of racial injustice," said rally speaker George Allison, executive director of the state NAACP--which also supports a moratorium.

While the votes may not be there now, a movement to ultimately abolish the death penalty is on the horizon, said Steve Dear, head of the Chapel Hill-based People of Faith Against the Death Penalty.

"We have been addicted to the death penalty," he told rally participants, "and our addiction has blinded us to the widespread evidence that our death penalty system is awash in racial bias and targets the poor instead of the worst offenders."

Two days after the legislative rally, death penalty opponents got some good news when a Gaston County judge granted a stay of execution to longtime death-row inmate Larry Darnell Williams, who was scheduled to die April 27. Like Ernest McCarver, who was also granted a stay last month, Williams' attorneys argued their client has mental retardation. The U.S. Supreme Court recently agreed to hear McCarver's case to decide whether the law should prohibit the execution of those with mental retardation. In North Carolina, a bill to ban such executions has passed the state Senate.

Latest in Front Porch

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Front Porch

  • One vote

    • Nov 12, 2014
  • Box of one

    Was I paying to be helped or to feel important, a bona fide expert on only myself?
    • Sep 24, 2014
  • The Old South (Hills)

    The Old South (Hills)

    • Sep 17, 2014
  • More »


Twitter Activity

Most Recent Comments

'Anna Lee' is a truly beautiful song, Ms Dossett. And I love Levon Helm's rendition. You are blessed with a …

by Byron Miller on A song for Levon (Front Porch)

Just now seeing this....Liz and I were super close friends in the early 80s. She was so special. I had …

by RoBert 1 on In memoriam: Liz Holm, 1959–2013 (Front Porch)

Nobody will be surprised to learn that Hocutt never went to Nam. He was in the Navy but washed out …

by Jefflenter on Raleigh bad boy no more (Front Porch)

I see his concern. Yes, it was a well written story and showed his caring side for sure. But not …

by Linda Bates Terrell on Motorcycle men (Front Porch)

Follow-up to my "nervous mom" comment. The last coupe of weeks we have been in many situations with individuals that …

by paulapowers on Governor's School blues (Front Porch)

Comments

'Anna Lee' is a truly beautiful song, Ms Dossett. And I love Levon Helm's rendition. You are blessed with a …

by Byron Miller on A song for Levon (Front Porch)

Just now seeing this....Liz and I were super close friends in the early 80s. She was so special. I had …

by RoBert 1 on In memoriam: Liz Holm, 1959–2013 (Front Porch)

Most Read

© 2016 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation